For an outsider, it is difficult to comprehend the hardships that the people of Josephstaal go through every day.
From a functioning station in the 70s and 80s, Josephstaal, is now just a shadow of its former self. Much of the infrastructure built during a time when vehicles could travel here are vacant.
While taxpayers pay for salaries of public servants, those who are posted to Josephstaal don’t want to go there. The two day trek and unreliable transport is a motivation killer for those not used to the rural hardships of Papua New Guinea.
The solution is simple.
Josephstaal needs a road and a bridge. But the political will to get the road fixed is painfully absent. The bridge was destroyed by flood years ago and has not been replaced. Many of the older kids can’t remember the last time a plane brought in supplies.
The Middle Ramu District Administration has not invested in the road and the provincial government has remained silent.
After two months of political instability in Waigani, where millions of kina were spent so generously on hire cars, hotel bills, food, entertainment and promises of big projects, Just seeing the people in Josephstaal suffer because of 30 years of government neglect will make you angry.
When you travel to Josephstaal, you get to understand the difficulties the people face.
The first thing that confronts you, is the uncertainty of transportation. Unless you have everything prearranged, you really don’t know when the next vehicle come to the drop off point. Or when the next boat will take you up river to where the track to Josephstaal begins.
Travel is hard for families with small children.
Making this journey, gives you an appreciation of why government workers don’t find Josephstaal an attractive career path.
Church health workers, like Patrick Angrai have to go through this at the beginning of the year and every quarters when they have to pick up medical supplies in Madang. If boat doesn’t come, they have to wait for it.
The two day trek to Josephstaal, goes through thick jungle and sago swamps. Text books, medical supplies, food and building materials are carried on foot on this trek.
At Josephstaal, many of the people have given up hope. They’ve become so used to the neglect that they’ve tried their best to adapt.
But it is hard to ignore the hundreds of school children whose opportunities for education have been cut short by ongoing government neglect.